(Please bear with the length of this review because I tried to bring justice to the length and multiple annotations of Gully Boy)
“Someone beautifully painted a splash of fire with the Ashes” – Gully Boy is revolutionary, inspiring, heart-breaking (at parts), cruel, casual, empathetic, gutsy, & a real tale. In fact, it is not a single movie, it is like a huge thali of varied dishes – all cooked with truth! I am falling short of words to explain the feelings running in my head right now. Very rarely, they make movies that elevate your senses to this level. Only a cool-headed, calm, and composed set of hands could have pulled off this gigantic movie. Zoya Akhtar was ridiculed by a segment of moviegoers that “she makes movies on rich people” to which she retorted “Really! India goes to the theater to watch poverty?!” And here she bounces a story where not only poverty but many shades of the burning challenges of India are accommodated.
Zoya & Reema Kagti has an outstanding caliber of creating a world of their characters where you find the rustic flaws marrying the ironies! Be it Luck By Chance, Dil Dhadakne Do, or Lust Stories – she showed it every time that dichotomy prevails as an underline in every stratum of our society. This movie is dedicated to the life and fame of Divine & Naezy but the movie is way above them.
Story In Short
The story primarily focuses on the life of Murad who lives in Dharavi and is pursuing graduation. His father is a driver of a “rich” family who is earning and investing in his education so that his son can become an able man. The family like every other family has its “not so comfortable” stories. Murad’s father marries again and that leads to some friction in the family (beautifully depicted in an un-Ekta Kapoor way). So, Murad writes poetry and listens to world-famous rap stars to deviate himself from his domestic life. His long-time girlfriend of 9 years Safeena played by Alia Bhatt is a motor mouth and a hot spring of anger and rage. One should not mess with her life.
Safeena is an upper-class girl and her parents are more interested in getting her married and not her career in surgery. Murad gets in touch with MC Sher played by Siddhant Chaturvedi. (the invention and gem of the movie) Who helps Murad to polish his skills. From here, the story focuses on Murad’s journey of becoming a rapper who literally rises from the rags. In this journey, he is preparing for his exam, driving a car for the rich, working as a sales guy, and also stealing cars at night! There is also turbulence in his family due to this “not so conventional” form of music.
Moments That You Will Take Back Home
- From rags to riches, comparison of “haves” & “have nots”, patriarchy to conventional norms, dreams vs. reality, dilemma vs. confidence, religion vs. humanity, the reeling gap between rich & poor to dissolving the differences, revolt vs. adjustment, fair & lovely vs. brown & beautiful – there are too many subplots here. The director uses all these elements to create the world of Gully Boy. Never ever trying to be preachy and yet propelling you to think sensibly.
- The dialogues of this movie deserve a separate blog. From the awe-inspiring “duniya mein sab comfortable hote to rap koun banata?” (MC Sher) to the selfish “itna sa to life hai mera, ab isme bhi wo ghusegi” (Safeena) and “apne idhar to sab jaat paat dekhte hai, inke yaha direct aankho mein jhankte hai” (MC Sher) – there are multiple moments in this movie which are gutsy, raw, hard-hitting yet so subtle! The dialogue writer Vijay Maurya is impeccable at his job both on & off screen. On screen, you have seen him in Tumhari Sulu and here as the Mama of Murad.
- The whole transformation of a shy boy Murad (quite opposite of Ranveer Singh’s real-life aura) to a rap star performing in front of lakhs is carried out to perfection by RS. Zoya taps into a very different Ranveer Singh (we’ve seen that in DDD too) and he never ever falters. During the end of the movie where Murad performs the final round of selection and sings “Aapna Time Aayega” – you can truly feel his heartbeat (& yours too).
- The light work and camera angles (Jay Oza) create a beautiful emotional sphere. And that is a prime reason which makes this movie so lovable!
- Alia as Safeena is unapologetic about hitting anyone and everyone who she finds out is getting closer to her boyfriend. With every movie, she is breaking her image and making it her career best!
- Siddhant Chaturvedi as MC Sher puts up a laudable performance who is the discovery of 2019. Outstanding would be an understatement to describe him here. The movie belongs to him & Ranveer totally.
- Vijay Varma as Moeen justifies his role and is another pillar of the movie.
- Vijay Raaz plays the father of Murad who is utterly selfish but a bit restrained than the dad of Secret Superstar. He is there to prove a point that patriarchy is detrimental even to the growth and development of art & culture!
- One of the highest highs of Gully Boy is that Ranveer Singh. A mass superstar by his own merit is a character here. The hungry eyes and composed body language used to become Murad makes a permanent home in your heart. He is Murad and nothing more than Murad where even for an inch you won’t see the charismatic star flair. In fact, the camera also treats him like that. There is no close-up shot for the heroic entry that is so rampant in Bollywood.
- In a particular scene, Zoya infuses Javed Akhtar poetry “Doorie” to play as a monologue to the audience. Murad drives the rich girl home from a party and sees her cry relentlessly. That big gap that our society draws between “have” & “have nots” is captured to excellence here with lines like “Ye behte aansu main pochhu itni meri aukaat nehi”.
- Murad once goes to the home of Sky (Kalki Koechlin) and uses her washroom. Belonging to a slum, he knows where he stands in the eyes of the society and thus maintains that gap with his simplicity. He uses a towel and folds it exactly the way it was. Not leaving a mark that it was used by someone. He then counts his steps to gauge the measurement of the washroom. That plays a parallel to the fact that his “kholi” is smaller than this washroom.
- Like many, I was not familiar with the Rap music that became a rage in the 80’s – 90’s in America and later came to India too. This album made me listen to these songs in loop. The reason is revolutionary lyrics which are sensible and amazingly records the rage and roar of our times!
A single space to narrate the narrative of Gully Boy won’t be enough! Many movies were made as a commentary to Mumbai. But no one romanced so engagingly with Mumbai where you feel proud of the scars. Many movies were made as a tale of “becoming something” be it biopics or imaginary stories. But no one is “so sold to its passions and dreams” like Gully Boy.
P.S. – Beyond everything else “Ek Hi Raasta” narration of Murad is that anthem that will lubricate your engines of passion. A big salute to Javed Akhtar for inspiring us to take the “other route”!
4.75/5 – (0.25 deducted for not showing a bit more of Kalki Koechlin)